Thursday, 19 January 2023

A year went by

 A year went by

It was a year ago today, that I went under the knife for a liver resection. Just before they knocked me out, they asked me what operation I was about to have. "Full brain transplant", I replied, and then I passed out.

Five surgeons worked on me for nine hours, and they cut out most of my liver and all of my gall bladder. I don't think they transplanted my brain, but how could I tell, because if they did, I wouldn't know.

Recovery took months.

But now I feel that I'm totally over the effect of the operation, except that my cancer is gone (I had a scan in October, and revisited Churchill hospital in December for the results, which were great) and I have a hernia (probably partly caused by the operation).

The nurses, of course, were great, and I'm really pissed off at the way that our government is playing Grinch with them. Also, the doctors were great, and the nursing assistants, and the porters, cleaners and food staff. They were all doing their best for me and the other patients in their wards. When I went back last December, I gave them four big boxes of chocolates, to show that there's at least one person who is on their side.

It took a few months to get my appetite back. I started with Chinese takeaways, then Turkish, Indian and KFC. But now I'm on home-cooked meals, prepared by the good Ladysolly, and the only long term effect is that I don't dare lift anything really heavy. And a year ago, I really didn't want to eat, and was only forcing food into myself because I knew that I had to. Now, I'm actually looing forward to meals!

I consulted a consultant about the hernia; his opinion was that it isn't life-threatening, and we should leave it alone for now (but keep an eye on it). So, I'm not going to be cut up about it.


Monday, 19 December 2022

What did Musk expect?

 What did Musk expect?

 I'm a member of Twitter, although I haven't logged on for a few years. It's not a place I like to visit.

So, I heard just now that Elon Musk (who bought Twitter recently) set up a poll. "Should I step down as head of Twitter? I will abide by the results of this poll."

57.5% said "Step down".

 Really, what did he expect? Hasn't he heard about Boaty McBoatface? Ask silly questions, get silly answers. We learned that again in 2016 with the Brexit referendum.

So will Musk do what he promised? Or will he ignore the poll?





Sunday, 18 December 2022

Trump trading cards

 Trump trading cards

Donald Trump announced as et of 100 trading cards, costing $99 each.  You get an NFT (which is a blockchain signed certificate of authenticity and a sweepstake code that enters you for the possibility iof various prizes, incluging a meal with the man himself.

So I wondered if a secondary market had developed.

Of course it has.

I went on to eBay, and found that for $118.80 you can buy a jpg (but no printed picture) of a card - but not the NFT or sweepstake code. Um. I could make a jpg using screen capture, which I can do at no cost. To sell that for $118.80 would require serious chutzpah. And to buy it would requite serious stupidity.

But wait - there's more!

From Canada, someone is offering "high resolution images of the NFTs on pressed and shrink wrapped CD-ROM. It does not contain an NFT or sweepstakes codes." for £60 for 13.

A seller who has made eleven  sales on eBay in his history, is offering JPGs (No NFT) for $999.99. He's also offering a 20 by 20 inch glossy print for $2999.99. Or 20 JPGs for $4999.99

But I couldn't find anywhere on eBay, someone offering the NFT version, which is the whole point.


So I visited the web site that sells the cards, but if you're hoping to spend $99 on a card, you'll be disappointed.


I am reminded powerfully of Trump University, which ended with a $25 million lawsuit. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the settlement and payment by Trump, "is a stunning reversal by Donald Trump and a major victory for the over 6,000 victims of his fraudulent university."

Tuesday, 6 December 2022

Doctor appointment

Doctor appointment

When I go to the web site of my GP, I can't book a face-to-face appointment, only a telephone appointment. I do see the reason for that; most things can be dealt with over the phone. But not all.

I think I have a hernia. It's not too surprising - I had one several years ago, and because it had a risk of strangulation, I had an operation, which wasn't too bad, but left me knocked back for several weeks.

So I made a telephone appointment. The doctor took me through all the tests that she'd have done herself, and thought that it's most likely a hernia. A repair operation isn't recommended, but I have to avoid lifting heavy things and other forms of strain. I might also get a belt from the pharmacy. Just to be sure, she said I should make a face to face appointment.

Which I can't do on their web site. So I phoned up, and I can't do it on the phone either, except if I phone at 8:30 am on the day. I asked if I could pre-book, and the answer is no, I can't.

 Why is this?

The person I spoke to didn't know, just "them's the rules". So I have to phone in at 8:30 am, hold for however long it takes, and eventually get an appointment.

My thinking is that, whether they realise this or not, what's happening here is rationing.

Tuesday, 22 November 2022



I'm using an Airwick Freshmatic (Purple Lavender) and it works fine. Every few minutes, it goes "pft" as it squirts an atomised mist of fragrance into the office.

Just one problem. The "pft" noise is just like the sound of a short circuit. So, every pft makes me look round to see what's just blown!

Sunday, 20 November 2022

A data recovery

A data recovery

A friend's daughter had a computer problem - her Windows 7 machine just wouldn't start. It's an HP TouchSmart, so I got her to bring it in and I put it on my workbench. When I powered it up, sure enough, it told me that the hard drive had failed.

Opening it up was a bit of a problem. It's a 23 inch LCD screen, with all the computer stuff built in to the back, and it wasn't obvious how to take the back off. But a quick Google showed me how, and I soon had it taken apart. I took the drive out, and attached it to a linux computer, and it told me that the drive had about 50,000 reallocated sectors (which means it's well past the end of its life).

So I put a new drive into the HP, and tried to install Windows 7, from a genuine DVD that I have. Windows 7 installed, but it wouldn't recognise the ethernet, which means that it wouldn't be able to connect to the internet, or to my local network. I'm guessing there's a special HP Touchsmart version of Windows 7. I tried a few different variations, but each time the intall wouldn't recognise the ethernet. Why is Windows so complicated?

So then I installed linux, version Fedora 37 - but that didn't work, Fedora claimed that there was no hard drive. My guess was that my attempts to install Windows had banjaxed it. So I ran Zerodisk and zapped the drive, and then linux installed just fine, and the hard wired ethernet port worked, and the wifi ethernet.

Back to the linux computer with the original drive attached - I mounted the drive (it was an ntfs file system, so I mounted with the option -t ntfs) and that worked.

I rummaged around the hard drive until I found where friend's daughter had kept all her pictures and videos, and copied them all onto my network (all except the dozen or so pictures that refused to read because of hardware errors). That gave me 98 gigabytes of data in about fifteen thousand files. I had a look at some of them to make sure they were readable - there's a lot of dog pictures there!

Back on the HP TouchSmart, I mounted my network drive, and copied all those files to the hard drive there - it took quite a while!

I noticed that she had skype on the old drive, so I installed skype on the system, and an email client (thunderbird), and several picture viewers and video players, and Firefox as a web browser. And I set up some desktop icons so she'd find all this easily.

The last time I did a commercial data recovery, most drives were 20 megabytes; the drive in the HP was 1,000,000 megabytes. But the principles are the same.

I checked on eBay, you can buy a working HP TouchSmart for about £50 and upwards, but most of them are "collection only" which would mean a long trip. The one I was working on had an Intel i3 running at 3.3ghz with four cores, which is quite whizzy for a  TouchSmart.

Linux also recognised the wireless keyboard (and I think there's a wireless mouse, but I haven't seen it, so I used a Microsoft IntelliMouse, which I think is the best product that Microsoft have ever made). I don't think I got the touchscreen working, but I don't think that's a loss. Touchscreens are a very bad idea, for two reasons. The first is that to use them, you have to hold your arm out in front of you, and try doing that for a whole day! The second reason is that your fingers are going to make the screen filthy, and if you want to know why, look at your keyboard and see how dirty that's become!

I really don't like the keyboard that came with the HP. Keyboards are always a matter of taste, but for me, a good keyboard is one that feels good, and doesn't miss out any characters that I've typed. But you could always replace the keyboard with one that you prefer, and connect it to one of the six USB ports.

I'm looking forward to telling her that I've rescued all her dog pictures!

Saturday, 12 November 2022



Today I had my cataract operation. I've been not exactly looking forward to this, but as it turned out, it was less unpleasant than the average visit to the dentist. 

We turned up 20 minutes early, but because of some cock-up that I didn't investigate, we were left sitting in the waiting room for more than an hour - apparently they didn't know we were there.

So when we sorted that out, I signed all the paperwork, and a nurse put drops in my left eye, the one with the cataract. 

Then more drops, and more drops, then a consultation with the anaesthetist (I chose local anaesthetic), then more drops, and more drops, then the injection (a bit like the Novocain you get at the dentist) then "Lie down here" and they wheeled me into the operating theater.

More drops, then a rubber sheet over my head and chest except for a hole where my left eye was, then a thing was emplaced to keep my eye open, then more drops. Then iodine (a disinfectant, which also left me pretty much blind in my left eye). And then they used a machine which broke up the cataract lens and sucked it all out (apparently it was brown-yellow and quite thick and opaque). Then the surgeon inserted a plastic lens that would leave me able to see long distance without needing glasses, where the cataract used to be, then more drops (washing), then more drops (antibiotic), and then they took off the rubber sheet and installed an eye patch (aaaarrr, Jim lad) so right now, I can't see at all out of that eye. But the patch comes off tomorrow morning, and I just need to wear a plastic guard at night for a cojple of weeks.

And for the next few weeks, there's a schedule of eye drops and more eye drops and then eventually when the eye "settles down" a visit to the optician for new glasses - that'll be after Christmas.

They said that I can drive as soon as I feel confident that I can see well enough. Fortunately, I don't have to go to  Barnard's Castle to check my vision, I just need to check that I can read a licence plate at 20 metres.